Monday, January 30, 2006

The Hamas/Hitler Comparison

The rise of Hamas to the leadership role of the PA has brought comparisons to Hitler's accession to German dictator. I believe this analogy is inapt, first of a basic level because Hamas is not the Nazi party. But the argument is made by people who don't believe Hamas is as genocidal as Hitler.

The basic argument, implied here, is that the idea that Hamas will moderate its stance and become sensible once in power was assumed in the past when Hitler won the elections in 1933. Therefore we should be much more worried about Hamas controlling the territory next to Israel.

While I'm sympathetic to this argument, because Hamas is run by a gang of psychopathic gangsters, the situation facing Hamas is quite different from the one that faced Hitler. Hitler restarted the German economy by rebuilding the war machine and built a military force capable of carrying out his express policies. Hamas, on the other hand, is nothing more than a terrorist gang, without an economy or military. Yes, Hamas can wreak havoc on Israel through suicide bombings and missiles, but it cannot invade and destroy the country. If I was Poland in 1933, I'd be pretty scared because Germany at full strength could take over the country in a matter of weeks.

Israel is more powerful than Hamas could ever dream. If Hamas continues with its terror attacks, Israel could destroy the PA infrastructure in a matter of hours. The PA can never touch Israel's military might. Plus, the PA is completely dependent on foreign aid to survive and that might force them to become more sensible. But if it doesn't, Israel is not facing a blitzkrieg.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

For Your Pleasure

Taken down for the time being. Too much wasted time.

I'm moving this post to the top since it's getting buried under all my new (and cooler) posts. There are new posts under here, and when I find time, I'll put this post on the sidebar.

Let's see the high scores. Tell us in the comments. Do you go for a high score or higher levels?

Hamas Victory

I went to sleep last night hearing that Fatah won the elections, with Hamas making a strong showing. Today, the news is that Hamas won.

The question is why would Palestinians vote for Hamas knowing that a Hamas victory would probably lead to severe international repercussions? Well, it's probably a mixture of a few factors. For some, Hamas represents a religious government and they feel an obligation to vote for Islam. Others believe that Fatah has done nothing for them and they want to give Hamas a chance. A few more might want to stick it to Israel and the world community and show that Palestinians are not influenced by pressure. And, of course, some are just lunatics who want to see Israel destroyed and see Hamas as the party best capable of carrying that out.

Is a Hamas victory a bad thing for Israel? Maybe not. On one hand it forecloses any option of negotiations in the near future, making peace more difficult. However it removes the pressure from the US and EU to work with the PA (both of which consider Hamas a terrorist organization). It also gives Israel a real excuse to retaliate against the PA whenever a terrorist attack occurs. Until now they blamed the PA for not stopping terror; now they can hold it responsible for carrying it out.

So Hamas in charge is really beneficial for Israel only if you believe that Fatah was not going to make peace with Israel in the near future. Israel was being pressured to work with Abbas, who either couldn't or wouldn't fight terror. Now, there will be no more pressure, and Israel will have an easier time responding to terrorist attacks.

On another note, how will Hamas' victory affect Israel's elections? I would have to guess it would help the right and really hurt the left, unless they change their platform. Not too many people in Israel are going to vote for a party that wants to give territory over to Hamas. I foresee the Israeli electorate moving to the right, with Likud and the far right parties picking up some seats at Labor's (and maybe Kadima's) cost.

Last point: Does anyone know what happens to Abbas now? He is President of the PA. Do legislative elections have anything to do with the executive branch? Or is the PA system more similar to Israel? Does anyone know? Are there even rules for this?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


It took days and days (and all my blogging time) but I finally beat (well, actually shattered) the high score in Pacman. Now I never have to play that game again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bibi Courting Center

If Bibi's speech at the Herzliya Conference is serious, I'd support Likud's inclusion in the governing coalition, especially since his economic policies are so spot on. I don't agree with everything, which is why I wouldn't vote for Likud, but I'd much rather see Likud influence policy than Labor.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Scalia and Federalism

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided Gonzalez v. Oregon, the assisted suicide case. At issue was the federal government's ability (through agencies) to regulate medical procedures. The Court ruled in favor of the state, thereby allowing Oregon's assisted suicide law to stand.

This case is complex and littered with administrative law questions. Let's leave it aside for the time being. Of note was Justice Scalia's conclusion about the status of the Court's commerce clause jurisprudence (the federal government's ability to regulate commerce and in reality its ability to pass laws about anything).

"The Court's decision today is perhaps driven by a feeling that the subject of assisted suicide is none of the Federal Government's business. It is easy to sympathize with that position. The prohibition or deterrence of assisted suicide is certainly not among the enumerated powers conferred on the United States by the Constitution, and it is within the realm of public morality (bonos mores) traditionally addressed by the so-called police power of the States. But then, neither is prohibiting the recreational use of drugs or discouraging drug addiction among the enumerated powers. From an early time in our national history, the Federal Government has used its enumerated powers, such as its power to regulate interstate commerce, for the purpose of protecting public morality--for example, by banning the interstate shipment of lottery tickets, or the interstate transport of women for immoral purposes. See Hoke v. United States, 227 U. S. 308, 321-323 (1913); Lottery Case, 188 U. S. 321, 356 (1903). Unless we are to repudiate a long and well-established principle of our jurisprudence, using the federal commerce power to prevent assisted suicide is unquestionably permissible."

It's difficult to hear a staunch federalist such as Scalia make such an argument. But it's hardly shocking. Last year he concurred in judgment in Gonzales v. Raich, permitting the federal government to ban medical marijuana over the state's objection.

So is Scalia a federalist? Professor Bainbridge thinks not.

Scalia is not a radical originalist. His support for precedent is well-known. He agrees with Bork's view that precedents that are rooted in jurisprudence should be upheld.

Yet, this is not a case of precedent. The case had nothing to do with the commerce clause. Hoke, Wickard, and all the other commerce clause cases are irrelevant.

What Scalia is saying is that the Court's jurisprudence has not just expanded the breadth of the commerce clause, but has created a much more powerful federal government. To return it to size (in accordance with originalism) would require a complete overhaul of the Court's view on federal power. That would require a fundamental change in how the could looks at federal power.

Did Scalia betray his principles? I don't think so. The horse already left the barn. They cannot rein in the federal government at this point. So if the agency's interpretation had a constitutional basis (I'm grossly ignorant on administrative law question), then it should be upheld. The original understanding of the clause cannot be applied without a massive reversal of case law on a scale we've never seen before.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Is Palestinian Violence The Only Way?

Some people like to argue that only through violence can the Palestinians realize their rights.

Let's think about this claim for a minute. Let's look at the 90s as an example.

The first Intifada was basically over by the time the Rabin was elected. Rabin was elected over Shamir.

In 1996, Hamas suicide bombings led to a Bibi victory over Peres.

In 1999, years of relative quiet led to Barak beating Bibi.

In 2001, the Intifada caused Sharon's election.

What is the common thread between these dates? Israelis vote for the Left when the Palestinians are nonviolent, and vote for the Right when they act violently.

Let's look at it even more. The biggest cession of land to the Palestinians was the Gaza withdrawal.

Did Sharon withdraw during the height of the Intifada? No. He waited until it was dead in its tracks.

When Bibi signed Wye and Hebron, were suicide bombins raging in the streets? Not at all. The violence was at a minimum.

When Barak offered basically all of the West Bank, was that after years of violence? No, it was after 1999, the year when not a single Israeli was killed by terror.

Violence just hardens the Israelis, making territorial compromises more difficult to acheive (of course that's perfectly logical). The smart move for the Palestinians is to not be violent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Blog Block

I'm sitting here trying to figure out something to write, but nothing is coming up. It happens to the best of the bloggers, including Ezzie and DovBear, so it's nothing to be ashamed of. And despite having tons of time, I've been doing other things besides blogging.

Well, for one thing, I made pasta in my apartment for the first time. Gave me something to eat before and after the fast. I was in Lakewood for a while, but am now back in The City.

How in the world did the Jets only get a 4th round pick for Herm Edwards? Did they even try? I feel like I could have done better. The Texas-USC game was great as college football games go.

Glad to see Sharon is recovering and even in his absence Kadima will be a power. Alito will be confirmed, even if Democrats try to portray him as the devil.

Dovbear and Chardal are going at it pretty seriously, although they made up.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Really Tired

I've been busy and tired (no not because of school), so blogging has been down to a minimum. So here's an article about the differences between Aharon Barak and the late William Rehnquist in how they viewed judicial activism.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

PM Sharon Suffers Another Stroke

Today Ariel Sharon suffered what can be described as a major stroke. He is in serious condition and might not make it.

How will this affect the elections? I have no clue. But I know that elections are the last thing people should be thinking about.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Yankees vs. Mets II

Yesterday we went through the position players. Today we'll take a look at the pitchers.

Starting pitchers:

Randy Johnson vs. Pedro Martinez

The better debate about these two would be career. But as it stands right now, Pedro is better.

Pedro made the smart move of moving to the NL where pitchers batting .150 have to hit and he's out of the game before the pinch hitters come in. Johnson moved to the AL, and his numbers took a hit. There are statistics that equalize AL and NL, but I don't have access to them and I'm not shelling out the bucks to get them.

Pedro went 15-8 with an 2.82 ERA and a .949 Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched (WHIP). He also had 208 SOs in 217 innings. Johnson actually had a better record (17-8) but the Mets bullpen blew a bunch of games for Pedro. The Big Unit had a 3.79 ERA, a 1.126 WHIP, and 211 SOs in 225.7 innings. If you take into account the AL-NL disparity these numbers are not so different.

But this case is an example of numbers being deceiving. As someone who watched a bunch of Pedro and Johnson starts, I can tell you that Pedro was better. The question, though, is whether Johnson had a down year (he's done this before) and will bounce back. If he does, or Pedro goes down with an injury, this position is even. Since I've seen no evidence of that being the case, I'll give Pedro the edge.

Mike Mussina vs. Tom Glavine

These are two old school warhorses. The number differences are not as bad as I thought. The WHIP is pretty even (1.369 vs. 1.363). Mussina had a better record (13-8 to 13-13). Mussina had better SO numbers (142 in 179.7 innings to 105 in 211.3)

The biggest difference is ERA. Glavine had a 3.53, while Mussina had a 4.41. That's a huge gap, even with the league and park differentials. Assuming Mussina does not revert to his 2003 days, I'm giving Glavine a slight edge.

Here it gets tricky for the Yankees. They have a whole bunch of pitchers to fill the last two spots. I'm going to pick Chacon, Wang, and Pavano. For the Mets I'm going with Zambrano and Trachsel (am I missing a pitcher?).

Shawn Chacon vs. Victor Zambrano

There were two Shawn Chacons last year. The 1-7 one in Colorado and the one with a 2.85 ERA in NY. Last year was the first time Chacon got out of the deathly confines of Coors Field. And his numbers were much better. We're not quite sure what we'll get here, but it doesn't have to be that great considering the competititon.

Even when Chacon was pitching in Colorado, his WHIP and ERA were better than Zambrano (4.09 and 1.445 to 4.17 to 1.485). Zambrano had the better win-loss but that's a function of hitting and bullpen more than anything else (Roger Clemens anyone?). Zambrano had 112 SOs in 166.3 innings to 79 in 151.7 for Chacon. The walks were pretty close too (66 for Chacon, 77 for Zambrano).

Since I think we'll get something closer to the Yankees Chacon, I'm giving him a slight edge.

Chien-Ming Wang vs. Steve Trachsel

Wang pitched well but was hurt. 8-5 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.246 WHIP. Trachsel didn't pitch much, so we'll look at his numbers for the year before. 12-13 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP. Very little SOs for either pitcher, although Trachsel was better.

I think Wang will only get better and Trachsel is on his way down, so the edge goes to the Yankees.

Carl Pavano vs. ???

With Seo, Benson, and Heilman all being traded (if this deal goes through), who are the Mets going to start? And does it even matter considering how bad Pavano was last year? Well if the Yankees catch fire with either Pavano, Jaret Wright, or Aaron Small, someone will be better than the Mets' nonexistent 5th starter. Edge for the Yankees, pending the Mets actually getting someone to fill this spot.

So we have an advantage for the Mets with Pedro and Glavine and the Yankees an advantage the rest of the way down. Overall though, the Mets probably have a slight edge.

Relief Pitchers:

The Yankees really restocked their pen this offseason, acquiring Kyle Farnsworth, Octavio Dotel and Mike Myers. The Mets got Billy Wagner and Danys Baez if the trade goes through.

There are a lot of ifs here. Baez is not that good. He had 41 saves but a high 2.86 ERA and a 1.327 WHIP. Plus he's not a SO pitcher (51 in 72.3 innings), which is important for relievers.
Dotel might be out until May, but if healthy, he is quite the setup man (closer is a different matter). His last two seasons as a setman were so good the Astros traded Billy Wagner (two seasons with a sub 1 WHIP). Farnsworth had a great year, especially once he moved to Atlanta, but everyone is good on Atlanta.

The Mets bullpen is gutted if the trade goes through, and the Yankees only restocked (and have to get better considering what they out there last year). Let's call the bullpen even until this point.

Closer: Mariano Rivera vs. Billy Wagner

Rivera is the best closer of all time. His WHIP is constantly around 1. His ERA over the last three years is sub 2. He strikes out around a batter an inning. Wagner's number all almost as impressive. Rivera has the better ERA over the last three years but a higher WHIP. And Wagner has the better SO numbers.

Rivera has saved a whole lot more games over the last few years. I have to give the edge to Rivera solely based on his postseason numbers and clutch ability.

With the edge to Rivera, the bullpen edge goes to the Yankees.

Bullpen to Yankees, starting rotation to Mets. Overall the pitching is very close with a slight edge to the Yankees.

The Mets have a whole bunch of new players so chemistry might be a concern. The Yankees have the consumate professional in Derek Jeter, who runs the clubhouse well.

I'd go through the bench but that changes over the course of the offseason.

With a slight edge to the Mets in pitching and a big edge to the Yankees in position players, overall the Yankees are better.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Yankees vs. Mets

Assuming this deal goes through, for the first time in a while, we could actually have an honest debate about which team is better: the Mets or Yankees.

Tonight we'll analyze the position players.

Let's go through it position by position:

1st Base: Jason Giambi vs. Carlos Delgado.

This matchup is actually pretty close. Let's look at the relevant numbers. Giambi had an on-base percentage (OBP) of .440 and a .535 slugging percentage (SLG). That makes his on-base plus slugging (OPS) .975. Delgado had a .399 OBP and .582 SLG for a .981 OPS. Pretty close. Delgado had narrowly more home runs, 33 to 32, but substantially more extra-base hits, 77 to 46. Those numbers are reflected in the SLG.

The biggest difference is RBI. Delgado had 115, while Giambi only had 87. That's a huge gap. But remember, Giambi started the season slowly and spent a large chunk of the season batting at the bottom of the order.

Defense and baserunning are a wash for these guys (although Giambi grounded into 7 double plays while Delgado bounced into 16). They both aren't very good.

I'd give Delgado the edge only because he's been much more consistent and Giambi is injury prone. But if Giambi is healthy these two players are even (and I might give the edge to Giambi because OBP is the most important statistic).

2nd Base: Robinson Cano vs. Miguel Cairo

While Cairo might get the edge in fielding, the hitting is no contest. Cano's OPS: .778. Cairo's: .621. And Cano should only get better. Big edge Yankees.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter vs. Jose Reyes

Reyes stole 60 bases in 75 tries. That's really good, especially for a guy who barely gets on 30% of the time. And Reyes should get better. But seriously, this position isn't even close. Jeter's OPS was .839. Reyes' was .686. Jeter won a gold glove and is one of the best baserunners in baseball. Huge edge Yankees.

3rd Base: Alex Rodriguez vs. David Wright

David Wright is a great player and will get a lot better, but he needs Albert Pujols numbers to make this position close. Big edge Yankees.

Catcher: Jorge Posada vs. Paul LoDuca

The big question is whether Posada had a down year or if he's declining because of age. If he had a bad year, the position isn't close. If these numbers are what should expect than the position is close.

Posada's OBP was .352 and his SLG .430 for a .782 OPS. LoDuca had a .334 OBP and a .380 SLG for a .714 OPS. Posada had more power and got on base more. Posada even threw out a higher percentage of baserunners.

At best this is even and that assumes Posada is in a serious decline and will get worse. But I don't see that so I'll give the position to the Yankees.

Left Field: Hideki Matsui vs. Manny Ramirez

Matsui is good, but Ramirez is much better and that takes into account baserunning and defense. Ramirez's OPS was .982 and Matsui's was .864. I can see Matsui's numbers improving but Manny is just much better. Big edge Mets.

Center Field: Johnny Damon vs. Carlos Beltran

Beltran is the superior fielder and basestealer, so the question really is whether he'll return to his Royals' form. If he hits like last year, Damon is the better player. If he goes back to his almost 40-40 days, when he had a .900 OPS, he's better. The Yankees' lineup is very impressive and Damon will only be better this year. So for the time being I'm going with Damon.

Right field: Gary Sheffield vs. Cliff Floyd

Sheffield's numbers were down last year. His OPS was .891, while Floyd's was .863. The numbers were closer than you think but Floyd had a big bounce back year, so we don't know what we're going to get. Edge to Yankees.

That's 6-2 Yankees, with big edges at 2nd, SS, and 3rd. The Mets have a big edge at LF, but that's it.

Tomorrow we'll look at the pitching staffs.

Update: Whoops, looks like the Yankees just got Miguel Cairo. Not sure who the Mets are going to play at 2nd now, but I don't think it matters. Big edge to Yankees.

How Frum Is Lakewood?

I'm sitting here, at 12:06 AM, and watching the fireworks go off right across the street. I don't even remember seeing that in Flatbush.